Top Things to do in Cappadocia + Where to Stay & What to eat

Top Things to do in Cappadocia + Where to Stay & What to eat

#Cappadocia, is a semi-arid region in central #Turkey. It is full of natural sites, most notably the “fairy chimneys,” tall, cone-shaped rock formations clustered in Monks Valley, the best ways to explore them are either from a #hotairballoon or on a scooter. The landscape is surreal with churches and abandoned houses carved into the valley walls.


First things first, where is Cappadocia? Well, it’s literally on the middle of Turkey, the area is called Central Anatolia. The famous cities in the region are: Göreme , Urgup, Uchisar and Avanos. So, where to stay in Cappadocia?

Each city has it`s pros & cons. Göreme is usually the main choice. Yes, it is busy and full of tourists, but comes in handy for the availability of hotels, restaurants and activities. Uchisar for sure grants the best views of Cappadocia, although is really quiet. On Urgup you can also find a large selection of hotels and restaurants. If you are looking for pottery, Avanos is your place. There are public bus connecting the cities but I would recommend to arranging your own transport, especially because there are a lot of things to do in Cappadocia and you need to move around.

We opted to stay in Göreme because we found an awesome cave hotel with a great price, we could walk to some valleys, we could appreciate the hot air balloons every morning from the terrace of our hotel while having breakfast and it was easy to reach from Istanbul.

We opted to stay in Göreme because we found an awesome cave hotel
The view - balloons everywhere
The view - balloons everywhere

What are the top Things to do in Cappadocia?

I think the question is what not to do in Cappadocia? Seriously there are so many activities and things to do in Cappadocia that you will run out of time. We had 2 targets on this trip: fly on a hot air balloon & explore the area on a scooter.

Colorful balloons
Colorful balloons

Hot air balloon in Cappadocia is a must do activity. Ok, not that cheap, but it is money well spent. I`m not a big fan of heights and I was a bit anxious for the flight. The driver picked us up at the hotel around 5:00 am and drove to the company’s HQ where they gave us safety instructions and an “ok” breakfast.

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Cappadocia hot air Balloon Ride

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 Cappadocia, Nevşehir Merkez, Turkey
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A lot of tension was going on because on the past three days no balloon flew due to the weather conditions. It was the last opportunity to some people. Consider that the weather can be tricky, book your hot air balloon flight on your first morning in Cappadocia. After waiting about 1 hour they rushed everybody to the vans and drove like crazy to the launching point.

What a beautiful scene, those colorful balloons being inflated, the first lights of the sun crossing the sky. And myself thinking if I should board in that fragile basket that would be lifted by hot air trapped in fabric. No, I was not convinced. Natalie realized that I was, let’s say, paralyzed. She is very persuasive, first she asked if I was afraid, then told me to think about my regrets related to things that I didn`t do, and finally she told me to not be such a pussy.

Balloons ready for take off
Balloons ready for take off
Iconic view for Cappadocia
Iconic view for Cappadocia
Breathtaking
Breathtaking

Five minutes later I was holding the basket border and watching Cappadocia from its best point of view. The Cappadocia rocky formations from above are spectacular, the sunrise, all the other balloons swinging with the wind, what an experience. Definitely a hot air balloon is one of the must things to do in Cappadocia. 

a hot air balloon is one of the must things to do in Cappadocia

After landing we celebrated the flight with champagne, actually was a kind of non-alcoholic wine [horrible].

Back to the safety of the ground we were off to explore the valleys. The first one was Zemi Valley, crazy rocky formations and almost nobody there. A trail took us to a plateau with great views of the Göreme Open Air Museum. Then we headed to Rose Valley, more bizarre formations, looks like we were in a Star Wars site.

Road
Road
Rock formations
Rock formations
Stunning
Stunning

On the following day, we packed some fruits, biscuits, water, and went to the famous Love Valley. A stray dog started following us and keep following till we were far from Göreme. I was worried if he would manage the trail, turns out that “Mustafa” [nice name, I know] was leading us.

We walked the whole valley and Mustafa walking beside us all the time. We gave him water, biscuits, some cuddle. We bumped into other hikers [so fancy, after 2 days walking we became hikers] and everybody was asking how we manage to travel with a dog. We had to explain that he was our dog only for the day. After 11km and 3 hours “hiking” we reached back Göreme and Mustafa just walked away, no goodbye, no tears, nothing…

The Love Valley was my favorite one, we were there during Autumn so the shades of yellow, brown and orange gave a special touch. The rocky formations at Love Valley are, humm… well, check the pictures out and you will have your own conclusions what they remind.

A puppy thinking about life
A puppy thinking about life
The Love Valley
The Love Valley
Sun setting over Cappadocia
Sun setting over Cappadocia
Trying to pet the dog
Trying to pet the dog
Watching the clouds
Watching the clouds

On our last day we rented a scooter to search for things to do in Cappadocia out of the tourist path. Our idea was to get lost. We drove over 50 km with no plan in mind. We passed by Uchisar, Ortahisar, Cavasin and Avanos. Our curiosity took us to small roads lined with vineyards, hills overlooking the valleys, abandoned houses and churches carved on rocks. Of course I had a lot of fun riding off road. I followed some ATV`s on dirty tracks and sandy roads, great fun. [Hope the rental guy don’t read this post].

Wonderful view
Wonderful view

I was so happy driving around that didn’t realize how cold it was. On late October the weather can be chilly there, the whole day I was driving wearing only a light jumper. When we arrived in Avanos my body started shaking, I couldn’t control it. I wasn’t feeling my hands and feet. My face was white as a ghost, and my lips deep blue.

Hypothermia, my body was not coping with the cold. We stopped at a cafe and the staff came to help me. Hot tea and a special seat in front of the heater. I was shivering, could barely hold the cup of tea. After half an hour I recovered and we made our way back to Göreme. Tip from the [not] pro: stay warm when riding a scooter or motorbike.

Riding the motorbikes
Riding the motorbikes

Those 3 activities were our favorite things to do in Cappadocia. Although there are more. In the nearby city of Avanos you can find pottery shops and even learn how to do your own pottery.

 Talking about pottery, a must try is the pottery kebab. I think I ate pottery kebab every single night while in Cappadocia. It`s a slow-cooked stew made with meat and vegetables, in a sealed clay pot. My favorite one was made with lamb. Absolutely delicious!

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Pottery Class in Cappadocia

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More Attractions and Things to do in Cappadocia

» The Turkish Night, this is a very touristic attraction in Cappadocia, dance performances and a dinner. Not my cup of tea.

» Horse riding, I`m sure that should be a nice way to visit the valleys but I don’t like the idea of being seated over 2 hours on the back of a horse.

» ATV tours, this is a great one but since we rented our scooter, we ventured ourselves in the same tracks as the ATV`s, not recommended but is great fun [and a bit dangerous]!

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» The underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are well-preserved ruins going as deep as 8 floors below ground. After a not happy visit to the Catacombs in Paris, we skipped the underground cities. However, the visitors say the underground cities are one of the top things to do in Cappadocia.

» If you are short of time consider taking one of the tours. There are two tours that cover most of the things to do in Cappadocia. The Green tour will take you to: Derinkuyu Underground City, Ihlara Valley hike, Selime Monastery, Pigeon Valley, Göreme Panorama & some jewelry shops.

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And the red tour will take you to: Göreme open air museum, Cavusin old cave village, Uchisar castle, Devrent valley, Urgup fairy chimneys, and to a pottery shop in Avanos. 

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Bookings can be done with your hotel or with any travel agency.

Iconic Cappadocia picture
Iconic Cappadocia picture

How to get to CAPPADOCIA From ISTANBUL

CAPPADOCIA BY PLANE

Turkish Airlines flies from Istanbul Ataturk Airport & Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Nevsehir Airport and Kayseri Airport. Pegasus Airlines flies from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Nevsehir Airport. From Kayseri or Nevsehir you need to take a mini bus/van to Göreme.

Check Expedia or Sykscanner for good deals on flights

CAPPADOCIA BY BUS

If you can sleep on a bus this might be an option. Overnight bus from Istanbul to Göreme takes about 12hs to complete the journey. The buses in Turkey are quite comfortable and some even offer individual LCD screen for movies & games. You can book your bus ticket with Kamilkoc & Metro Turizm.

CAPPADOCIA BY TRAIN

A fast speed train from Istanbul to Ankara, about 4 hours, and then more 4 hours by bus to Cappadocia. It`s an option if you are traveling with an Eurail pass. Travel around Europe and Turkey by train is very easy, we wrote an article giving all the information and tips to buy the best Eurail pass, choose the itinerary and save money.

Where to Stay in Cappadocia

The cave hotel
The cave hotel

Stay in a cave hotel! It´s part of the experience and one of the things to do in Cappadocia. Our recommendation is to stay at Family Cave Suites, the rooms were incredibly spacious, with fireplace, jacuzzi and even a hamman. The breakfast was assorted and delicious. Will deffo come back!

Another option [especially for tiny budgets] is the Ishtar Cave Pension, it wasn’t a properly cave hotel but the breakfast served on the terrace was a big plus.

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Hotel Ishtar Cave Pension

 Aydinli-Orta Mah. Harun Sok. No:45 Goreme / Nevsehir, Goereme, Turkey
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Best Restaurants in Cappadocia

Topdeck Cave Restaurant
Topdeck Cave Restaurant

Topdeck Cave is also listed as #1 by Tripadvisor. The food is gorgeous, the service impeccable and the venue is beautiful. And gets better, all of that comes under a very reasonable price. One of the best lamb dishes I ever ate. Book in advance, is a small place and get packed everyday! [A big thanks to Clement & Jo-Ann for inviting us for dinner].

Cappadocian Cuisine, this family-owned restaurant offers delicious meals at a very affordable price. My favorite pottery kebab was made there.

My favorite pottery kebab was made there

Write this post made me realize how much fun and special moments we had in Cappadocia. It was on our bucket list for a long a time e finally we crossed it off. I’m so glad we went there during the Autumn, it was less crowded, with fresh air and nature was gorgeous.

The Turkish people know how to treat their guest. You can be sure you will sleep and eat well there. Also there is something special in the air, not sure if is the culture, the history, the beauty… There are so many things to do in Cappadocia that you will be overwhelmed, however, take some time to seat on the Sunset Point hill to relax and watch life goes by… I´m sure you will feel the powerful energy that comes from that place.

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